Thursday, June 29, 2017

Change and your Preschooler: How to Transition from a Daycare to a Montessori Environment

Change and your Preschooler: How to Transition from a Daycare to a Montessori Environment

Enrolling your child in a Montessori preschool program is exciting, but it could be quite a change. Here are a few ways to prepare your preschooler for their new environment.

Foster Independence

Montessori programs encourage independence. Children choose their projects, work, and clean up independently.

If your child is used to instruction in preschool or at home, you can help him prepare by encouraging independence at home as much as possible. Here are a few ways to encourage independence:
  • Easy & Accessible - Keep shelves and bits at child height and have step stools to make things like bathroom sinks and kitchens accessible.
  • Self Sufficiency - Encourage your child to do things for themselves, from getting dressed in the morning to getting ready for bed at night.
  • Big Helper - Ask your child for help with things such as cooking and cleaning. This teaches them valuable skills and provides a sense of ownership over their world.

Encourage Motor Skills

The emphasis on independence in the Montessori classroom also promotes strong motor skills. Through drawing, writing, cooking, and cleaning, children have a chance to practice their fine motor skills.

Here are a couple of suggestions to help your child practice their fine motor skills:
  • Cooking and Serving - Cooking and self serving foods offers another opportunity to practice fine motor skills such as spooning, pouring, and stirring.
  • Tracing, writing, drawing, and coloring - Drawing, coloring and tracing promote creativity and fine motor skills.

Set Up a Work Area at Home

A crucial part of the Montessori program is the prepared work environment, where children have everything they need to explore, create, and learn. You can set up a similar area at home.

Your child's work area can be anything from a corner of the bedroom to a designated craft room, but should include:
  • A child-sized table and chairs.
  • A rug for working on the floor and spreading out.
  • Supplies such as pencils, crayons, paints, lined and unlined paper, and scissors.

Follow the Child

One of the most fundamental principles of Montessori is that the lessons plans "follow the child." This means that kids learn by choosing their own projects and exploring their interests, under the guidance of the teacher. This principle of choice encourages a love of learning.
Here are a few ways that you can "follow the child" at home too.
  • Give your child plenty of unstructured time - Avoid the temptation to over schedule your child. Instead, allow him plenty of time to create and learn in his work area.
  • Explore the world together - Take trips together to parks, zoos, museums, and anything else that captures your child's interest.

Changing to a Montessori program can be an adjustment, but by making a few easy changes in your home, you can smooth the transition for your preschooler.  The Montessori School of Flagstaff Sunnyside Campus works with parents and guardians to ensure the transition is a smooth one for everyone involved.  For more information on how Montessori's emphasis on independent learning can benefit your child, contact us today and request a tour of our school.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Incorporating the Montessori Method at Home

Incorporating the Montessori Method at Home

Walking into a Montessori classroom surprises many parents and caregivers - the environment is clean, calm, completely organized, and promotes child-centered learning. The Montessori Method encourages independent learning through a well-maintained, prepared environment. Incorporating the basic principles of the Montessori Method at home will provide you and your child with numerous benefits for learning.

At Home: Parents using the Montessori Method in daily life

Use Child-Friendly Furniture

Creating a child-friendly space allows your child to be responsible. Promoting accessibility, age-appropriate furniture and storage areas will create an order to your child's room and other areas of the home.
  • Low shelving, drawers, and closet rods with child size hangers provides the perfect opportunity for your child to put away clothes.
  • Low shelves with storage baskets for toys, educational materials, trays, and other essentials promote cleanliness in your child’s bedroom or play area.
  • Use small chairs and a table. Encourage your child to sit the trays or baskets on the table for play. When finished, remind your child to place items back in the proper space. After some time, the ritual will be part of the daily routine.
  • Use step stools with one or two steps in the bathroom area. By using the steps, your child may use the sink for handwashing.
  • In the kitchen, place healthy snacks, waters, and juices at your child’s level.

Promote Independence

Allow your child plenty of time to accomplish different tasks without interruption. After completing the task, your child will gain a sense of independence, accomplishment, and confidence. As time progresses, the completion of basic tasks will enhance further learning.

Teach Basic Skills

In the Montessori learning environment, children learn basic life skills. Implementing organization techniques, assisting younger children, and participating in everyday cleaning rituals are part of the daily routine. At home, use the learning techniques to help build your child’s self-esteem and confidence
  • Allow your child to wash up prior to a meal or snack.
  • Encourage your child to put away clothes, toys, and other materials after use.
  • Allow your child to wash off the table before and after use.
  • Place dishes in the sink.
  • Help with basic household chores.
  • Encourage your child to discard items in the proper place. Discarding trash and recyclable materials into proper bins provides your child a sense of accomplishment.

Incorporate Nature

Montessori teaching believes nature plays a major role in learning. Spending time outdoors promotes curiosity, imagination, and desire to learn about the immediate surroundings. When at home, create a nature space.
  • Set up different nature items for exploration.
  • Go for walks.
  • Allow your child to explore the outdoors without interruption.
  • Provide nature books.
  • Plant flowers.
  • Search for nature materials including acorns and rocks.

Incorporating different aspects of the Montessori Method at home provides your child with a chance to learn and explore. The small changes in your child’s environment provide a larger impact. As your child learns, a basic foundation develops for further exploration.

At our private elementary school in Pleasanton, CA, Montessori School of Pleasanton works with its parents to incorporate the Montessori Method at home, in order to supplement the learning environment their child is experiencing at school.  Contact us today to see our elementary school students working together as they learn through exploration and hands-on activities.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Preschool and Storytelling: Expanding Your Child's Imagination

Preschool and Storytelling: Expanding Your Child's Imagination

Storytelling is the oldest form of instruction known to mankind. Through stories, prehistoric people passed down family histories, learned what to eat and what to be afraid of, and then the art of storytelling progressed into learning how to write down letters and leave a legacy for the future. For the preschooler, stories still fulfill all of those functions, and Montessori learning embraces storytelling as a vital tool in a young child’s education.
Using Storytelling to increase your Preschooler's Imagination

Building Language Skills

For small children, storytelling is an important step in building vocabulary and language skills. Simple stories using basic phrases and building on them with more colorful adjectives and adverbs teach the art of language and speech. Storytelling also helps children build a robust vocabulary, introducing them to novel words that they may not be exposed to on a regular basis. Encouraging preschoolers to assist in creating an exciting adventure prompts them to think-- and express themselves-- in new ways.

Every Picture Tells a Story

Giving a child an object and asking him to make up a story about it does more than build creativity. It also teaches him that everything has its own story, and that more goes into that story than may first be apparent. The object can be anything from a colorful picture to a leaf or pebble. And the story can be a fanciful history or imagining what will happen after the moment the object has been introduced. The important thing is to imagine and create, not to arrive at a predetermined outcome.

Tales of Long Ago and Far Away

Fairy tales and history lessons share a common trait: They both introduce a young child to something from the distant past and show them how it relates to a moral or physical understanding. Knights taming dragons may not seem to have any historical importance, but exposure to such stories may encourage a boy to learn more about feudal systems, ancient castles, or the ethics involved in honesty or personal virtue.

Imagination and Invention

All of the great inventions started out as imagination. Storytelling encourages children to imagine what could be, and that prepares them for a future where they may build the next great tool for modern living. Historical stories for preschoolers can be about all kinds of things, including the solar system, life beneath the seas, or how building dams creates electricity to power homes. Tickling the imagination to fuel the possibility of creating something new and wonderful will encourage the little ones to learn more, think more, and to use their own minds for things no one else has ever thought of.

The Montessori method uses tried and true educational tools to assist children in their development. For preschoolers, this includes the age-old method of storytelling, both creatively and historically. The idea is to use the best tools to garner the most progress, and this is one tool that has a long history of success. At Montessori Children's House, a private day care in Fremont, CA, our teachers encourage students to embrace their creativity and use their imagination throughout their learning. Contact us today to schedule a tour!